Illinois came into Friday's match with the No. 5-ranked Gophers with an eight-match losing streak but pushed the home team nearly to the limit.
The Gophers, coming off a 19-day break because of virus issues, needed to rally to beat the Illini 25-20, 15-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-12 at Maturi Pavilion. Minnesota (10-1) is 17-2 in five-set matches since Oct. 23, 2016.
Stephanie Samedy, who came in averaging a Big Ten-leading 4.5 kills per set, had 18 kills and 11 digs for the Gophers and Adanna Rollins almost equaled those stats with 14 kills and 12 digs. Taylor Landfair had 10 kills.
Middle blocker Regan Pittman had eight blocks. CC McGraw, who was second in the conference at 4.4 digs per set, had 25 digs and setter Melani Shaffmaster had 42 assists and six kills on 10 attacks without an error.
Illinois (2-9) also had two players with double-doubles. Megan Cooney 21 kills and 11 digs and Raina Terry 20 kills and 10 digs.
Both of them also reached double figures in attack errors, with 10 and 11 respectively. Those mistakes allowed the Gophers to outhit the Illini .218 to .205.
The fifth set was tied 9-9 and 11-11 before back-to-back kills by Samedy and Rollins and an Illini attack error gave Minnesota a 14-11 lead. Cooney's last kill got the Illini within two, but the match ended when the visitors made a service error.
Illinois led the Gophers in kills (71-57) and digs (90-72), but Minnesota had the advantage in blocks (14-12) and fewer attack errors (18-33).
And once the match got to a fifth set, coach Hugh McCutcheon's team rarely loses.